Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about national initiatives to prevent concussions, head injuries and the long-term damages they can cause. This is because more and more evidence-based support is arising around the serious, long-term damage repeated head injuries can inflict. Guidelines are changing on how medical professionals treat concussions in children. Doctors now view concussion as a very serious condition, in which treatment must be individualized.
First and foremost, it is important to understand what a concussion is and the signs and symptoms of the condition. A concussion is a type of brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Symptoms of a concussion that parents should be aware of include the child appearing dazed, stunned, confused about events, answering questions slowly, repeating questions, becoming irritable easily, having difficulty recalling events prior to the injury or losing consciousness (even brieﬂy). Over time, sufferers of a concussion may exhibit behavior or personality changes, experience changes in sleep or forget class schedules and assignments.
Individuals who have suffered a concussion may also experience deep sadness and depression. It’s important to seek professional help if your child is developing depression.
As your child recovers from a concussion, it’s important to let them return to normal activities at their own pace. If they push themselves too hard they may start to develop a headache and if they return to strenuous activity too soon they may reinjure themselves. Cone Health neurology specialists work with parents and local schools to develop a “return to learn” plan for each patient that will help them slowly build up their activity levels. For some individuals, that may mean only attending a few classes a day, limiting the number or length of tests they can take during this time, limiting screen time and making adjustments to the learning plan as needed. Since those who have suffered a concussion can have difficulty concentrating, can feel slow or unable to focus, accommodations can help them learn while they heal. If a parent suspects their child has suffered a concussion or any type of head injury, they need to seek medical attention immediately for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of the condition.
Cone Health now has a dedicated pediatric neurology specialist and practice working closely with area primary care and sports medicine doctors to properly detect and treat children who have concussions and/or head injuries throughout the community.
Dr. William Hickling is a pediatric neurologist at Cone Health Child Neurology. Dr. Hickling is a 1978 graduate of Cornell University Medical College. He completed his pediatric residency at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and his neurology residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. He has practiced in this community since 1985.